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Robert H. Coats

Robert Hamilton Coats, FRSC, statistician, journalist (born 25 July 1874 in Clinton, Ontario; died 7 February 1960 in Ottawa, Ontario). Robert H. Coats was the first Dominion statistician of Canada (see Statistics Canada). He spent 24 years as the country’s chief statistician. During his career, he modernized and expanded Canada’s census and data collection programs.

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Marion Alice Orr

Marion Alice Orr (née Powell). Pioneer pilot. (b. Jun 25, 1916 [?], Toronto, ON; d. April 4, 1995, Peterborough, ON). Marion Orr's birth date has been given variously as 1916, 1918 and 1920. She obfuscated sometimes on documents related to flying for fear that she would be grounded by her age.

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Gerhard Herzberg (Obituary)

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on March 15, 1999. Partner content is not updated.

In his life and work, Gerhard Herzberg defied easy categorization. Herzberg, who died last week at 94 after a long career at Ottawa's National Research Council, won the 1971 Nobel Prize for chemistry even though he was a physicist.

Article

Norman Bethune

Henry Norman Bethune, surgeon, inventor, political activist (born 4 March 1890 in Gravenhurst, ON; died 12 November 1939 in Huang Shiko, China). Norman Bethune was an innovative thoracic surgeon who made significant contributions in the field, including the invention or redesign of surgical instruments. He was also an early advocate of universal health care in Canada. A member of the Communist Party, Bethune volunteered during the Spanish Civil War, where he pioneered the mobile blood transfusion unit. In 1938, he travelled to China, where he became a battlefield surgeon for Chinese Communist forces under Mao Zedong. Bethune’s commitment to the welfare of soldiers and civilians during the Sino-Japanese War made him a hero in the People's Republic of China.

Article

Nadine Caron

Nadine Rena Caron, surgeon, researcher, mentor, educator, patient advocate, community leader (born 1970 in Kamloops, BC). Nadine Caron was the first female First Nations student to graduate from the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine. She was also the first female First Nations general surgeon in Canada. For many years, Caron has highlighted the needs and voices of northern, rural and Indigenous populations in Canada.

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Georges Boucher de Boucherville

Pierre-Georges-Prévost Boucher de Boucherville, soldier and Governor Prévost's aide-de-camp, writer and inventor (b at Québec City 21 October 1814, d at St-Laurent [Île d'Orléans] 6 September 1894), first child of Pierre Boucher de Boucherville, seigneur.

Article

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell, teacher of the deaf, inventor, scientist (born 3 March 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland; died 2 August 1922 near Baddeck, NS). Alexander Graham Bell is generally considered second only to Thomas Alva Edison among 19th- and 20th-century inventors. Although he is best known as the inventor of the first practical telephone, he also did innovative work in other fields, including aeronautics, hydrofoils and wireless communication (the “photophone”). Moreover, Bell himself considered his work with the deaf to be his most important contribution. Born in Scotland, he emigrated to Canada in 1870 with his parents. Bell married American Mabel Hubbard in 1877 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1882. From the mid-1880s, he and his family spent their summers near Baddeck on Cape Breton Island, where they built a large home, Beinn Bhreagh. From then on, Bell divided his time and his research between the United States and Canada. He died and was buried at Baddeck in 1922.

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Canadian Astronauts

An astronaut is an individual involved in flight beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Since the Canadian Space Agency held its first recruitment campaign in 1983, 14 Canadians have completed astronaut training and nine have participated in 17 missions to space. Specifically, they have flown as payload specialists, mission specialists, and flight engineers on NASA shuttle flights and expeditions to the International Space Station (ISS). Canadian astronauts have played key roles in repairing satellites and building the ISS using the Canadarm and Canadarm2 robotic technologies, and have advanced scientific knowledge by conducting a variety of experiments in space.

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Roland Galarneau

Roland Galarneau, CM, machinist and inventor (born 16 February 1922 in HullQuebec; died 22 May 2011 in Hull). In the late 1960s, Galarneau invented the Converto-Braille, a computerized printer capable of transcribing text into Braille at 100 words per minute. This was a landmark innovation for people with visual impairments, as it increased their access to textbooks and other written information. Galarneau developed faster versions of the Converto-Braille in the 1970s. The company he founded eventually adapted the machine into software for IBM computers in the 1980s. This software was a precursor of the Braille software used today.

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Elsie MacGill

Elizabeth (Elsie) Muriel Gregory MacGill, OC, aeronautical engineer, feminist (born 27 March 1905 in Vancouver, BC; died 4 November 1980 in Cambridge, Massachusetts). Elsie MacGill was the first woman to earn a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering (1929). She was also the first practising Canadian woman engineer. In 1938, she became chief aeronautical engineer of Canadian Car & Foundry (Can Car). There, she headed the Canadian production of Hawker Hurricane fighter planes during the Second World War. An active feminist, MacGill was national president of the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (1962–64). She was also a member of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada (1967–70).

Key Facts
Born 27 March 1905, died 4 November 1980
First woman aeronautical engineer and aircraft designer
Key Canadian feminist
Oversaw production of fighter planes during WWII  
Nicknamed “Queen of the Hurricanes”

Article

Paul David

Pierre Paul David, CC, OQ, cardiologist and senator (born 25 December 1919 in Montréal, QC; died 5 April 1999 in Montréal).

Article

Evelyn Nelson

Evelyn Merle Roden Nelson, mathematician, professor (born 25 November 1943 in Hamilton, ON; died 1 August 1987 in Hamilton, ON). A brilliant mathematical mind, Evelyn Nelson fought gender barriers in a discipline long dominated by men to become a rising star in the field both in Canada and abroad. She contributed to the fields of universal algebra, equational compactness and formal language theory. Nelson was particularly interested in applying universal algebra to the then-burgeoning field of computer science. She was a devoted teacher, sought-after research partner and the author of over 40 publications during what was a tragically short career.

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Hadfield Prepares for Space

As a boy growing up on his father's farm just west of Toronto, nine-year-old Chris Hadfield was so spellbound by Neil Armstrong's historic moon walk on July 20, 1969, that he promptly decided to become an astronaut himself.

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Peter Henderson Bryce

Peter Henderson Bryce, physician, public health official (born 17 August 1853 in Mount Pleasant, Canada West; died 15 January 1932 at sea). Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce was a pioneer of public health and sanitation policy in Canada. He is most remembered for his efforts to improve the health and living conditions of Indigenous people. His Report on the Indian Schools of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories exposed the unsanitary conditions of residential schools in the Prairie provinces. It also prompted national calls for residential school reform.

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John Porter

John Arthur Porter, sociologist (born 12 November 1921 in Vancouver, BC; died 15 June 1979 in at Ottawa, ON). Regarded by many as Canada's leading English-language sociologist, Porter is best known for his monumental work, The Vertical Mosaic, published 1965.

Article

Rose Johnstone

Rose Mamelak Johnstone, FRSC, biochemist (born 14 May 1928 in Lodz, Poland; died 3 July 2009 in Montreal, QC). Rose Johnstone is best known for her discovery of exosomes, a key development in the field of cell biology. These tiniest of structures originating in all cells of the human body are vehicles that transport proteins, lipids and RNA from one cell to another. A pioneer of women in science, Johnstone was the first woman to hold the Gilman Cheney Chair in Biochemistry and the first and only woman chair of the Department of Biochemistry in McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine.

Article

Steven Guilbeault

Steven Guilbeault, PC, MP, ecologist, author, columnist and lecturer (born 9 June 1970 in La Tuque, Quebec). In 2009, French magazine Le Monde recognized Guilbeault as one of the world’s 50 leading figures in the field of sustainable development. The Cercle des Phénix de l’environnement du Québec also recognized Guilbeault the same year. Guilbeault earned recognition through his work with Greenpeace and as a co-founder of Équiterre. He also served as a columnist for various media outlets, including Métro, Radio-Canada, La Presse and Corporate Knight magazine. During the 2019 federal election, Guilbeault was elected the Liberal Member of Parliament for Montreal’s Laurier─Sainte-Marie riding. Shortly thereafter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Guilbeault to his Cabinet as minister of Canadian heritage.